Weekend Excerpt–One Final Christmas Scene

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken.

BROKEN HARTS is my new Valentine’s Day novella, and it’s coming out Februry 12, 2021. Until then, it’s on Pre-Order for only 99¢. books2read.com/BrokenHarts

Here’s the official blurb:

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s beyond cliché.
But it’s what Ali Hart’s niece Shannon wants. So Ali will wear the pink chiffon bridesmaid’s dress, carry the rose and eucalyptus bouquet down the aisle, and keep her opinion to herself.

Ali is back in New York to get ready for the wedding, but her older sister and brother seize on her visit as the perfect time for Ali to make arrangements for their elderly father, who can no longer independently care for himself.

A navigational error puts Ali on a collision course with destiny. Now what?

***
A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s perfect.
Unless you’re not positive that she’s the one for you.

In the dark recesses of his heart, Logan Pryce knows that Catherine von Hollen isn’t the love of his life. The daughter of his father’s business partner, they’ve known each other for years. She’s blonde, gorgeous, and everyone loves her. On paper, it’s perfect. On paper.

A chance encounter with a nameless redhead on a crowded subway platform causes Logan to question everything he thought his life was going to be. Will he stay with the safe bet, or will he take a chance on something more?

How about an exclusive first look at this (unedited) Christmas snippet?

“What do you think, Dad?” Stepping back, Ali surveyed their handiwork and smiled. The woodsy scent of pine hung in the air as the ten-foot-tall Frasier fir towered over the pair of them. For the last two hours, they’d unboxed cartons of ornaments from Ali’s childhood and lovingly placed them on the dark green boughs, all while being serenaded with classic holiday vinyl courtesy of Jackson’s ancient turntable.

“It’s beautiful, Ali-gally,” her father grinned. “It looks like Christmas in here.”

“I think so, too,” Ali smiled. “In fact, I think we picked the best tree on the lot.” She hugged her father tenderly. “Let’s get a photo.”

Standing in front of the tree, she removed her phone from the back pocket of her jeans, cued up the camera, and held it out at arm’s length. She wrapped her other arm around her father’s waist. “Smile, Dad!”

Heads pressed together, the pair smiled into the camera lens and Ali snapped several shots. 

“Dinner in ten minutes,” Mrs. Smith commented from the doorway. “Oh, my, what a lovely tree!”

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Ali grinned. “Dad, why don’t you go get washed up? I’ll take care of all these boxes and meet you at the table.”

While Jackson shuffled off in the direction of the bathroom, Ali skimmed through the photos she’d just snapped and sent the best one to Logan. 

Throughout the day, she’d kept him up to date with a photographic journal of their adventures, from brunch at a nearby deli, to their foray into the tree lot, to their struggle in getting the tree up to the apartment. The doorman had been invaluable in that effort. 

Then once the tree was up, she’d snapped a few pictures along the way, ending with the final result, Ali and her father smiling with the tree sparkling behind them.

Beautiful, Logan texted in response. And the tree is nice, too.

LOL! she texted back.

Holy shit! Your dad is Jackson Hart!

At this, Ali laughed heartily. Unable to resist, she pressed the video chat icon.

“Hi, Ali,” he answered, grinning into the camera. “Your tree turned out great.”

“I know, right? We haven’t had a fresh-cut tree in ages. When we got back with it, we dug out the old ornaments from when I was a kid.” She sighed happily. “I just love it.”

“Judging from the pictures, it looks like you had a good day,” he observed with that lop-sided grin she was beginning to adore.

“We really did. Dad is doing so well today. You know, maybe he’s not as bad as we were thinking. Maybe if we just get someone to cover the night shift so his housekeeper doesn’t have to sleep with one eye open,” she ventured, “he might be alright.”

“That would be great,” Logan agreed.

The sight of her father shuffling to the dining table jogged Ali’s memory. “Oh, crap, I forgot that we’re about to sit down to eat. From the smell of it, I’m guessing Mrs. Smith has made chicken curry.”

His eyes widened. “Wow, I’d better let you go, then.” He frowned slightly. “So Ali, I’m checking my schedule for next week and it looks like I’ll be in New York on Friday, but only for the day. Is there any way you’d be free to have a late lunch-slash-early dinner with me?”

“A week from today,” Ali said thoughtfully. “Yes, I’ll make sure I leave Friday afternoon open. That sounds great! I can’t wait.”

Eyes shining, Logan nodded. “Me, too. I’ll see you then, but we’ll probably chat before Friday.”

“We will definitely chat before then,” she agreed. “Alright, Logan, I’ll talk to you soon. Have a great night!”

“You, too, Ali.” He held up his hand in a wave and they signed off.

**

After he hung up with Ali, Logan scrolled back through the photos she’d sent throughout the day, a thoughtful smile playing across his lips. He loved each picture documenting her outing with her father and their Christmas tree adventure. Something that felt a lot like envy lurked at the edges of his consciousness and he willed it away. 

In his favorite photo, Ali smiled up at him with those sparkling cognac-colored eyes. Behind her was a sea of evergreen, with Jackson Hart himself off to her right, appearing to inspect one of the trees just as she snapped the frame. 

God, she’s pretty

And she was, but not just physically. Something about Ali was vital and authentic, as though she hadn’t a care in the world about how other people viewed her. She knew who she was and what she wanted out of life. 

What Logan would have given to have accompanied her on that outing today. That. That was what he envisioned in a relationship with a lover, a wife, a partner. Leaning back in his chair, he exhaled slowly. He’d tried to capture that aesthetic with Catherine by suggesting that they, too, go out Christmas tree shopping. And he’d been resoundingly shot down. 

Asking Ali to meet him on Friday had been impulsive. Although he had business to attend to in New York, Friday night was Catherine’s big charity gala, and he absolutely had to be back in time to attend. Which meant that he’d fly in early Friday morning, then leave by mid-afternoon.

Originally, when he’d realized that he’d only be in the city for a few hours, he’d decided not to even mention it to Ali. The only other time they’d gotten together, they’d chatted for hours over coffee. It seemed cruel, and maybe a little unrealistic, to plan to get together for what would be such a very brief time.

But as they were saying their goodbyes, the invitation had just popped out of his mouth before he could pull it back in. And if he was honest with himself, he was happy it had. He couldn’t wait to spend time with her, even if it was only a little while.

At the nagging sense of guilt pulling at him, he rolled his eyes. 

It’s just lunch. Lighten up.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

If you love your romance with a little heat and plenty of heart, you’re going to love Broken Harts!

THIS STORY IS A PART OF THE FOREVER YOURS HOLIDAY COLLECTION.
ALSO IN THIS COLLECTION:
* Bella’s Wish by International Bestselling Author Linzi Basset
* All’s Fair in Love and Spells by Victoria Escobar
*My Italian Valentine by the USA Today & International Bestselling Author Diana Nixon

Until February 12,
each book is on Pre-Order for just 99¢.
So hurry! You’ll want the whole collection.

Weekend Excerpt–Christmas on Lake Miranda

She is the perfect combination of princess and warrior.

Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker

Their attraction is instant from the moment they meet.
But he’s Dominant. And no way is she submissive.
Is it a missed connection? Or a divine appointment?

Scott Nielsen is ready for change. He’s walked away from his career as a wilderness counselor, planning to start his own outdoor survival school. He looks up his old friend and former colleague Blake Walker, intent on leasing space at Blake’s family’s remote wilderness guest lodge. That’s where he meets Blake’s sister Jackie, who runs the lodge with her brother’s help. Her strength and independence intrigue Scott. A single mom, Jackie has no intention of being anyone’s submissive.

In his personal life, Scott is tired of casual sex in the BDSM club scene. Envious watching his buddy Blake fall head over heels for his own submissive, Scott thinks he might be ready to take the plunge himself. As he and Jackie spend time together, he’s enchanted with her inner Warrior Princess. But Jackie’s been burned before. And she has two children who are her priority, not to mention the business to run. As independent as she is, she can’t see relinquishing her power to a man, not even one she’s falling for.

Scott’s heart aches at the idea of not having Jackie in his life. Can she take another chance on love, or will she insist on ignoring her submissive soul?

If you enjoyed LOST & BOUND, you’ll love this spin-off stand-alone story.

Join Jackie and Scott in this little Christmas teaser.

On Christmas Eve, after the kids had gone to bed, the adults gathered around the enormous festively-decorated white spruce. Light Christmas jazz played in the background, and outside the floor to ceiling windows, snow swirled lazily in the half moonlight.

Jackie handed Amy a mug of warm mulled cider and settled beside her on a leather sofa with a mug of her own. On the floor, Scott and Blake sat amid the scattered pieces of a pink Barbie house ‘Santa’ had found on sale months earlier and had put away until now.

Winking at Amy, Jackie suppressed a smile. “Did you guys read the instructions?”

“We don’t need the damn instructions,” Blake huffed, pushing a stray lock of dark hair out of his eyes. “We’re two intelligent, grown men. We can figure out how to put together a dollhouse.”

The women clinked their mugs and giggled gleefully.

Amy looked from Blake and Scott to the twinkling Christmas tree, and to Jackie. “I love this.” Her voice was soft, and though she smiled, a tear was in her eye. “This is the Christmas I always wanted.”

Jackie’s heart melted, and she reached for Amy’s hand. “I’m so happy you’re here.”

Blake pushed up from the floor and pressed a tender kiss to Amy’s temple. “This is our life, kitten. This is our family, your family. You belong here.”

Jackie smiled across the room at Scott, who winked at her, and she felt a familiar tummy flutter. She loved the man more than she’d thought humanly possible. And when summer came, she’d marry him.

After Blake and Amy retired to the guest room, Scott and Jackie went to bed, quietly making love, then holding each other until late into the night.

They awoke to a bright sunny day, the sky crystal cerulean, the sun reflecting brilliantly off the sparkling snow. Emma and Grant squealed excitedly as they saw the mountain of gifts under the tree. Scott sat at the end of the sofa and Jackie snuggled up beside him, each of them sipping steaming mugs of coffee. Blake and Amy sat opposite them on the sofa’s twin, smiling as they watched the children tearing into their gifts.

Once they were finished, the kids had fun delivering gifts to the adults. Finally, all the gifts were opened. Blake and Amy gave each other a conspiratorial look. “We have a few more gifts,” Amy said.

“More?” Jackie echoed, thinking of the extravagant handbag for her, and the top of the line boots for Scott. “You’ve done so much already, seriously.”

Blake reached behind the sofa and picked up four identical shirt boxes wrapped in metallic red paper. He glanced at the tags and handed one to each of the children and to Jackie and Scott.

Amy leaned forward excitedly. “You have to open them all together. Ready? One, two, three!”

With a bemused glance at Scott, Jackie carefully opened her box. Grant and Emma ripped theirs open. “It’s a shirt,” Emma said, holding up a pink t-shirt.

Grant peered into the box. “Thanks, Aunt Amy,” he said, making an effort to sound enthused about a shirt. “It sure is…pink.”

Scott tilted his head as he looked at his, then elbowed Jackie lightly. She looked at his, then gaped at hers. In sparkling letters across pink cotton, she read, World’s Greatest Aunt.

Jackie gasped. “I knew it! I knew you were pregnant! I’m so excited for you!” she squealed, rushing over to give Amy and Blake a big hug.

“We didn’t want to tell anyone until we knew everything was going to be okay,” Amy explained.

“Cool,” Grant said, pulling his new shirt over his head, “we’re going to be cousins!”

“Aunt Amy, are you having a boy baby or a girl baby?” Emma asked.

Blake grinned. “It’s a little girl. That’s why we gave you pink shirts.”

“Congratulations, man!” Scott grinned as Blake stood and the two embraced. “That’s great news.”

“I can’t believe it.” He shook his head. “I’m going to be a dad.”

Jackie sank onto the sofa beside Amy. “A little girl,” she shook her head smiling. “That’s fantastic.”

Amy nodded, eyes shining. “Do you want to see the ultrasound pictures?”

“I’ll get them,” Blake said, heading in the direction of the guest room.

Grant and Emma returned to their new toys. Scott perched on the arm of the sofa next to Jackie. “I’m so happy for you two,” he told Amy. She laughed happily.

From the direction of the guest room, they heard a tiny yip. Jackie frowned. “What was that?”

Eyes wide, Amy gave an exaggerated shrug. “I have no idea.”

“Uh oh,” Blake called from the guest room. “I think I found another present.”

Jackie looked up to see a shaggy black puppy with a huge red bow come running into the room. He ran straight to the kids, yipping excitedly.

“A puppy,” Emma squealed.

Grant squinted at the tag on the big red bow and gasped. “Mom! It’s for us, from Santa!”

Blake leaned against the doorway looking pleased with himself.

“From Santa, huh?”

“I think Grandma and Grandpa might have mentioned it to the big guy,” Blake grinned.

Oh, for f-” Jackie glanced up at Scott. “Did you know about this?”

He raised his hands in surrender. “I promise, I knew nothing about a puppy.”

“They love Bear so much, they need one of their own,” Amy said, smiling.

“So, what are you going to name him?” Blake asked.

Brow furrowed, Grant watched the Newfie puppy for a moment. “Max. He looks like a Max to me.”

Ruffling the puppy’s ears, Emma nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah. Max.”

Jackie shook her head. “He’s cute, I’ll give you that. But I still want to see those ultrasound pictures of my niece.”

WARRIOR MINE by Pandora Spocks

This Christmas, treat yourself to WARRIOR MINE,
Dream Dominant Book 4!
books2read.com/WarriorMine

Weekend Excerpt–Sneak Preview of BROKEN HARTS

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken.

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s beyond cliché.
But it’s what Ali Hart’s niece Shannon wants. So Ali will wear the pink chiffon bridesmaid’s dress, carry the rose and eucalyptus bouquet down the aisle, and keep her opinion to herself.

Ali is back in New York to get ready for the wedding, but her older sister and brother seize on her visit as the perfect time for Ali to make arrangements for their elderly father, who can no longer independently care for himself.

A navigational error puts Ali on a collision course with destiny. Now what?

***
A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s perfect.
Unless you’re not positive that she’s the one for you.

In the dark recesses of his heart, Logan Pryce knows that Catherine von Hollen isn’t the love of his life. The daughter of his father’s business partner, they’ve known each other for years. She’s blonde, gorgeous, and everyone loves her. On paper, it’s perfect. On paper.

A chance encounter with a nameless redhead on a crowded subway platform causes Logan to question everything he thought his life was going to be. Will he stay with the safe bet, or will he take a chance on something more?

If you love your romance with a little heat and plenty of heart, you’re going to love Broken Harts!

Here’s a new, exclusive sneak peek at BROKEN HARTS.

Frowning, Ali swiped off her phone and resisted leaning into the woman beside her as the subway lurched around a bend. At least this time she’d gotten a seat, she consoled herself.

But Megan was on her last nerve with this wedding business.

Yes, she’d replied to her sister’s text. I’ll be at the bridal shop at 2:00. I told you I’d be there.

Moments later, her phone vibrated with another text. It was Shannon this time.

Sorry about Mom. She’s kinda freaking out right now. Thanks for putting up with her. My wedding wouldn’t be the same without you.

Ali had to smile. While she’d never had what she would call a close relationship with either her sister or her brother, she loved Megan’s daughter Shannon and her younger brother Kyle dearly. They’d all practically grown up together since Ali was merely two years older than her niece and three years older than her nephew. 

And she would. She’d make it to the fitting appointment on W. 69th, the day before Thanksgiving or not. Because it was important to Shannon, not because Megan insisted.

But first…

Ali absently twisted the strap of the shoulder bag resting on her lap and stared into space. Before the fitting appointment, she was making a little side trip on the upper east side. It hadn’t even been a conscious decision, really. 

After a restless night, she’d gotten up early, showered, and dressed in her least-faded skinny jeans, a black turtleneck sweater, her long camel-colored blazer, and black ankle boots. Her normal year-round Florida wardrobe consisted of lots of shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops, so wearing cold-weather clothes was a welcome change of pace.

At breakfast, her father had seemed very lucid. He’d announced plans to spend the morning writing, which Ali took to be a good thing. Again, she’d wondered whether Megan and Brendan were merely being alarmist. 

She spent an hour or so organizing her notes for the new book series she wanted to pitch to her publisher when they met the week after Thanksgiving. Then she popped into Jackson’s office where she found him tapping away at the old blue Remington manual typewriter, and she had to shake her head. No matter how hard she tried to convince her father to move into the 21st century, the old man remained defiant.

“This baby has never let me down. She’s never lost my blood, sweat, and tears into some goddamn black hole in space.”

“How’s it going, Dad?” she asked, placing her hands on his shoulders and kissing the top of his head.

He reached up and placed his left hand on top of hers. “Going fantastic, Ali-gally,” he grinned. “This may be the best one yet.”

“Good,” she nodded. “Listen, I’m heading out for a while. How about we order Chinese for dinner tonight? My treat?”

The old man nodded. “Sounds about right. I plan to keep plunking away right here while the muse is with me.”

Ali kissed the top of his head again. “Love you, Dad. I’ll see you later!”

Now, Ali watched as commuters hustled off and on the stopped subway car in an arrhythmic folk dance. Her heart began to pound noticeably. The next stop was hers, the wrong stop from the previous day. Now, she was headed to the 86th Street station on purpose.

This is ridiculous, she chided herself. He won’t be there. Why would he be there? Like he lives there at 86th Street or something. This is a colossal waste of time

She glanced at the time on her phone. It was 11:47, the same time she’d been on her way to the Golden Years center yesterday.

Hugging her purse to herself, she jiggled her right foot nervously. 

What, exactly, was the plan? She’d get off at 86th Street, look around the platform, not find him, the man from yesterday. Then what? Her appointment at the bridal shop wasn’t for another two hours. The trip to the upper west side would take half an hour, tops. What was she going to do in the meantime? 

This is such a dumb idea, she thought as the train slowed down to approach the next stop.

**

Shortly after 11:30, Logan hefted his tan leather messenger bag higher on his shoulder and stepped onto the down escalator at the 86th Street station. This felt increasingly like a fool’s errand, and more than once, he’d had to stop himself from turning around and heading home. But with the laser measuring tool tucked away in his bag, he figured he could at least do a few re-measurements to firm up the dimensions of the retail space.

Entering the platform, he glanced around and as expected, there was no pretty redhead in sight. He saw only a few commuters milling around waiting for the next train to arrive. 

Logan sighed heavily, swallowing his disappointment. 

It was too much to hope for, he supposed. Besides, you have a beautiful fiancee back in Chicago. Why in the world are you chasing some mystery woman?

Shaking his head, he dug the laser measurer out of his bag and headed toward the intended construction zone just as the next train rumbled into the station. Unable to help himself, he turned to watch the doors open and riders spill out onto the platform.

People of every shape and size and color and age moved with purpose toward the same escalator he’d descended only minutes before.

He almost turned back to his measurements when the crowd thinned and he saw her. The redhead from the previous day. She moved to the center of the space and stopped, her back to him as she stared in the direction of the wall where he’d waited for his clients twenty-four hours earlier.

He was moving toward her before he realized it. 

“Hey,” he offered softly when he was closer.

She whirled around, her cognac-brown eyes wide with surprise. “You’re here,” she breathed.

Logan felt himself smile. “You’re here, too.” 

She gave an uncertain laugh. “I’m, uh, Ali.” She offered a petite hand.

“I’m Logan,” he returned, gently accepting her handshake. “Listen, can we go for coffee or something?”

While he watched her rosy lips shift slightly as if she weighed his question, he relished the smattering of copper freckles across her nose and the apples of her cheeks. How had he not noticed them yesterday?

She finally nodded. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Good! Great! Let’s…” He motioned toward the escalator.

Her chuckle was musical. “Yes, lets!”

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

BROKEN HARTS is one of four romance novellas in the FOREVER YOURS collection, coming this Valentine’s Day. And right now, each book is on pre-order for just 99¢ apiece!
Check them out!

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND SPELLS by Victoria Escobar
BELLA’S WISH by Linzi Basset
MY ITALIAN VALENTINE by Diana Nixon

Reserve your copies today!

Weekend Excerpt–Happy Thanksgiving!

Artist Petey Cavanaugh has no idea the handsome businessman she’s falling for is actually Europe’s most eligible prince.

Red-haired Petey Cavanaugh is a sculptor who welds steel and glass creations. A young widow, she lives on her in-laws’ sheep ranch in Montana where she helps out during the day, working on her art at night.

Looking to raise money to expand the ranch’s business, she gratefully accepts her art school roommate’s offer of a gallery show in Manhattan. It’s been years since she was in the city, and she’s happy to visit her old friend.

Nik is in New York on business. He’s been traveling for nearly a month, enduring endless meetings, attending obligatory dinners, and battling jet-lag. On his way to yet another business dinner, his world collides with Petey’s one rainy Manhattan night.

Their mutual attraction is immediate, but Nik’s skeptical. Could it possibly be that this gorgeous, enchanting artist has no idea that he’s Europe’s most eligible prince?

Spending time with Petey is Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary. What will happen when she finds out the truth?

In this snippet from CHASING ORDINARY, Nik is ready to celebrate his first Thanksgiving.

After they’d showered and dressed for the day, Petey and Nik collected the casserole dishes from the refrigerator and placed them in the bed of a yellow wire-mesh wagon Petey retrieved from the garage. Together, they carried the wagon down the front steps and then headed off in the direction of Jane and Eli’s house.

The late November air was crisp and cold, their breath creating fog as they trudged along. As they approached the house, Cherry opened the front door and the aroma of roasting turkey wafted toward them. “Happy Thanksgiving!” she called.

“Happy Thanksgiving to you,” Nik returned as Petey waved. “We come bearing foodstuffs.”

Cherry’s brow furrowed. “Hunh?”

Petey laughed. “We have potatoes and dressing.”

“Oh. Come on in. It’s cold outside.”

Leaving the wagon on the front porch, Petey and Nik carried the dishes through the large living room to the kitchen, which was abuzz with activity. Mary Pat, decked out in a fall-themed apron, was leaning down to peer into the oven. At the kitchen counter, Jane was briskly working a fork through a large pot filled with something white. She looked up as they approached.

“Welcome! Happy Thanksgiving!” she smiled. “I’m just working the lumps out of the mashed turnips.”

Petey, sliding the potatoes into the fridge behind Jane, turned and made a face at Nik, who stifled a chuckle.

“Thank you for making me feel so welcome. I’m thrilled to be celebrating my first Thanksgiving,” Nik replied with an infectious grin.

“You never had Thanksgiving before?” Cherry asked, aghast.

“No, dummy, they don’t have Thanksgiving in Beruvia. It’s about the Pilgrims, remember?” Thomas chided.

“And the first time-out of the day goes to Thomas, who has been reminded repeatedly not to call his sister names. Ten minutes, pal. Starting when you get to your room. Now scoot,” called Eli, entering the kitchen from the back door. He nodded in greeting to Nik and Petey.

“Aw, dad!”

“We could make it twenty.”

“Geez, I’m going.”

Eli watched his son stomp upstairs. “Cherry, it’s time for the woolly to eat again.”

“Alright, Daddy.” The child turned to Nik. “Wanna come help me feed my lamb?”

Nik beamed at her. “I’d be honored to help. But you have to teach me how.”

Cherry was shrugging into her puffy hot-pink down coat. “Okay, but it’s pretty easy.” She pulled a knitted pink beanie with bunny ears down over her head. “Let’s go. We’re keeping him in the g’rage.”

With a wink to Petey, Nik followed the little girl into the garage.

“He doesn’t have to do that,” Jane whispered to Petey with a smile.

“I think he’s happy to tag along,” Petey replied.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Ms. Petey,” Jorgen greeted her as he entered through the same door Eli had come through moments earlier.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Jorgen. How are you today?”

The older man smiled. “I’m most well, thank you.” He turned to Mary Pat. “Is this what you meant?” He handed her three tins of spices.

Mary Pat smiled. “Yes, those are exactly the ones.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe I forgot them. Thank you so much for getting them for me.”

“It was sincerely my pleasure,” Jorgen said, bowing politely.

Jane rolled her eyes at Petey, who responded with a silent, “What the fuck?”

Eli had settled on the large sectional in front of the television. The Cowboys were just about to take the field. With his mission for Mary Pat accomplished, Jorgen joined Eli.

Petey was setting the long table in the dining room when Nik and Cherry came back into the house. The little girl was talking a mile a minute, with Nik nodding and replying when it was appropriate.

While Cherry continued into the kitchen, Nik stopped to give Petey a quick kiss. “Is there anything I can do?”

Petey shook her head. “I think it’s pretty much under control. Did you get the lamb all sorted out?”

“We did. I even got a chance to hold the bottle before Cherry decided I was doing it wrong.” Nik’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “I believe it’s the bluntest criticism I’ve ever received.”

“Yeah, she’d kind of straightforward,” Petey laughed. “The guys are watching football if you want to go relax.”

Nik nodded. “I think I will. I’m a bit knackered from too much sex,” he whispered.

Petey gave him a playful push and sent him on his way. Thomas, having paid his ten-minute penalty, made his way downstairs and joined his father and the others in front of the television.

Finally, everything was ready, with platters and bowls arranged down the center of the table. Everyone took their places, with Eli at one end and Nik at the other. Sitting to Nik’s right, Petey gave his thigh a quick squeeze beneath the table. Eli gave a thoughtful grace, and the food was passed.

Petey cleared her throat meaningfully as she handed Nik the bowl of mashed turnips. When he glanced her way, she arched an eyebrow. Stifling a chuckle, he passed the bowl to Jorgen, who heaped the concoction on his plate. Petey grinned at Nik, happy to share an inside joke.

The conversation was cheery, at times raucous and funny, punctuated by plenty of laughter. From time to time, Petey glanced to Nik, who seemed to be enjoying himself thoroughly. The thought of him being happy and at ease squeezed her heart with emotion.

At that moment, she realized that what she wanted more than anything was for Nik to be happy. That’s what love is, isn’t it?

When dinner was over, Jane stood up. “Okay, gentlemen, since the ladies cooked, you’re on clean-up detail.” She leaned over and kissed Eli on the cheek. “I’ll check on the barn,” she told him softly.

As Petey stood, Nik and Jorgen began gathering up the dishes and utensils. She sidled up to Nik. “You don’t really have to do this, you know,” she said softly. “It’s kind of Jane’s rule, but…”

“I don’t mind at all.” His tone was earnest. “I’m happy to help. It makes me feel delightfully ordinary.”

Petey pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Well, just so you know.”

“Go, relax,” he winked at her. “I believe that odd game you Yanks call football is still on television.”

“I heard that,” Eli said. “And it’s just plain football.” His tone was serious, but there was a twinkle in his eye.

“And why don’t they use their feet to play it, hmm?” Nik jibed, as both men laughed.

CHASING ORDINARY by Pandora Spocks

CHASING ORDINARY is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ChasingOrdinary

Weekend Excerpt–Rannigan’s Redemption

She’s nothing like the women he usually goes for.
So why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Rannigan’s Redemption, the best-selling of all my books, is the story of the complicated relationship between sexy high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and sassy red-haired fellow lawyer Maggie Flynn.

When I started writing Rannigan’s Redemption, it was intended to be one book, but as it went along, the story was just too long. It covers nearly ten years of Michael’s and Maggie’s lives, so there seemed no way that a single book could do it justice.

In the beginning, Michael and Maggie meet at a job fair, where he hires her practically on the spot. She’s smart and good her job. But there’s more to it than he’s willing to admit. He’s attracted to her. Which doesn’t make sense. She’s nothing like the women he dates. She’s way too smart, for one thing.

And Maggie’s in love with him, too. Realizing the situation is all but hopeless, she contents herself with working with him.

One night of passion tears them apart. And from that point they’re both just running rogue, each making questionable decisions in their professional and personal lives.

A moment of desperation brings them back together. After Michael has burned all his bridges, Maggie’s the only one willing to stand by him.

And he’s grateful. He knows he needs to make it up to her, to somehow find redemption for himself.

Here’s a (spoiler-filled) snippet from RUNNING ROGUE, the second book in the trilogy.

*Spoiler Alert!*

“Michael?” Maggie asked into the intercom.

“Hey, Mags.” His voice sounded tinny over the ancient device. “I know it’s late. I’m sorry. But when I saw your light on, I mean… Can I come up?”

Maggie hesitated, her finger hovering over the button. “What do you want, Michael?”

“Mags, I just…I just want to talk.”

She shook her head, checking the time again. What the hell? And he’s probably drunk. Standing out there in the rain like he’s got absolutely no sense.

She pressed the door buzzer. “Don’t wake my neighbors,” she admonished him.

Maggie pulled the wooly cream-colored robe tighter around herself, tying the belt securely and she stalked to the door, opening it to wait for Michael. She watched him coming up the stairs, his soaked hair matted to his head. His wet shoes squeaked softly with each footfall. She started to say something snippy but noticed the haunted look in his eyes, so she simply stepped back and let him into the apartment. She closed the door behind him and walked to the kitchen counter where she leaned back, crossing her arms, head cocked at him expectantly.

Michael stood just inside the doorway, rainwater pooling all around his feet. He looked ill at ease and uncertain.

“Well?” she finally said.

He ran his fingers through his wet hair and sighed deeply.

“Oh for God’s sake, Michael!” She left him standing there and returned with a large blue towel. “You’re soaked.”

She took his jacket from him and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair. As he used the towel to dry his face and hair, she couldn’t help herself. “Are you drunk?”

He frowned and shook his head. “I’m not drunk. I had some bourbon. I might be drunk. A little.”

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Sit down. I’m making you some coffee so we can send you home. Have you eaten lately?”

“I don’t know.” Michael sank onto a chair at the kitchen table. He glanced around as Maggie busied herself putting a kettle of water on the stove and taking a French press from a cupboard.

“I hope I’m not causing a problem with your fiancé. Husband? Whatever.”

Maggie paused to look at him, her lips forming a grim line. “Yeah, well, that didn’t work out so…no worries.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

She worked in silence breaking eggs into a bowl and putting strips of bacon into a skillet as Michael sat at the table and occasionally used the towel to swipe at his face. On the stove, the bacon began to sizzle as the kettle whistled. Maggie poured the boiling water into the press and let it stand for a moment as she chopped a small onion and part of a green pepper.

“Did you know Stan Hodges died?” Michael finally asked.

Maggie arched an eyebrow. “I was at the funeral. Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” he answered vaguely. He watched her grate cheddar into the eggs. Then she pressed the plunger on the coffee and poured some into a cornflower blue mug with a white script ‘M’ on the side.

M for Maggie. Or Michael. He shook his head to dismiss the inane thought. Looking around the small apartment, he asked, “Why are you still here?”

Maggie glanced over her shoulder. “What, I should move uptown into one of your glass and steel monstrosities?”

“I was just thinking that you could afford a bigger place, that’s all.”

“This may be a tiny apartment but this building has soul. Once upon a time, a family called this place home. Maybe I can’t afford to own a whole townhouse but at least I can rent a small part of it.”

Michael watched her for a moment. “You could have bought your own townhouse if you’d stayed with the firm.”

Maggie turned around and leaned against the counter, crossing her arms. “If I’d stayed, I’d have been out of a job along with everyone else. You really tanked everyone, you know that, right?”

He looked down at his hands. “I wouldn’t have pursued the television thing if you’d still been there.”

She snorted, returning to her cutting board. “Bullshit. Being on the news every night is exactly your thing. You can’t put that off on me.”

She set the coffee in front of him. “What are you doing here, Michael?”

He stalled, sipping the steaming hazelnut blend. “This isn’t where I meant to be. I went out and ended up down here in the Village. I was at the Blue Note until they kicked everybody out. I got a little lost and then realized I was across the street from your apartment.”

Maggie turned back to her omelet, stirring in the vegetables. The bacon had quieted down and she turned over the strips, causing them to erupt into loud sizzling once again. “Why are you here?” she asked again.

“I’m sick,” he said quietly.

“I don’t doubt it. It’s forty degrees outside and you’re soaked. It’s a wonder you don’t have pneumonia.”

“It’s cancer.”

Maggie froze mid-stir. “What?” Slowly, she turned around.

“Cancer.”

“Shit.” She crossed to the table and sank onto the chair across from him, gaping at him wide-eyed.

“There was this spot. And then they found out it was melanoma.” Michael’s face twisted. “Mags, you wouldn’t believe the chunk they cut out of my shoulder.”

“Well, they got it then,” she said. “Good. That’s good, right?”

“Bacon’s burning,” Michael said quietly.

“Fuck!” She jumped up and took the pan off the burner.

“I like it that way,” he offered as she set the strips of bacon on a paper towel to drain and poured the omelet into the pan.

“So after they took the hunk out of my arm they did a biopsy. It was melanoma, just like the doctor said. Then they had me get a PET scan. Said they needed to see if it had spread.”

Maggie worked mechanically at the egg mixture in the pan, listening intently as he spoke. “And?” she asked as she slid the omelet onto a blue ceramic plate. She placed it in front of him and sat down again.

“And they called this afternoon to say they have the results. The doctor wouldn’t discuss it over the phone. He wants me to come in tomorrow.” He looked down at the plate. “He said I should have someone with me.”

“Oh my God. Michael.”

He nodded. “I started making phone calls. That’s how I found out about Stan. Which was after I called Murph and then Jimbo. They pretty much told me to go fuck myself.”

Maggie watched him grimly. I imagine they did.

“I called some of the women I go out with. I guess everybody has a lot going on.” He sighed. “I thought about calling you. But, I don’t know. I’ve been an asshole. Plus I figured you were busy with getting married and stuff.” He met her eyes. “I didn’t mean to come here, honest to God.”

She watched him pick at the omelet. “My agent’s pissed at me because I bailed on some appearances. Asking her to come with me is out of the question. She’s probably not in town anyway.”

Michael shook his head. “I don’t know why they’re insisting that someone comes with me to that appointment tomorrow. I should just go and find out what the scan shows, figure out where to go from there. It’s just…” His voice broke. “Mags, I’m scared shitless.” He put down the fork and held his head in his hands.

Maggie could never have imagined a scenario in which S. Michael Rannigan would break down sobbing at her kitchen table. She felt as though her heart would break.

“Michael,” she said softly, standing beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder. His body shook as he let loose the emotions that had been building since the day the nightmare had started. “It’s okay,” she murmured. “It’s okay, everything’s going to be alright.” She waited for him to quiet down. “What time is your appointment?”

Michael sat up, sniffing and using the towel to wipe his face. “Shit.” He coughed and took a sip of coffee. “I have to be there at 1:30.”

Maggie looked over to where her files still sat scattered in the living room. She knew they probably represented ten hours of work for the following day and sighed heavily. “Where is the doctor’s office?”

“It’s on E. 80th between 2nd and 3rd.”

She nodded. “Okay. I’ll tell Rance that I have to leave at lunch. I’ll meet you there.”

“I can’t ask you to do that,” Michael said quickly, but he looked at her with such gratitude she felt the sting of tears in her eyes and a huge lump formed in her throat.

She coughed lightly. “You didn’t ask, although you seem to have asked everyone else in your Contacts, and I’m going to try not to take that personally,” she said. “I’m offering. Take it or leave it.”

RUNNING ROGUE, Rannigan’s Redemption Book 2 by Pandora Spocks

RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

Weekend Excerpt–So I Did a Thing…

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken.

So I did a thing…

I’ve been hard at work on my newest project, THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE, but I’m setting that aside for a bit while I work on something else.

I was recently offered a spot in a group project, a special Valentine’s Day anthology collection and I just couldn’t say no. I can’t give you a lot of details at this point, but I can share a little about my contribution to the effort, a steamy little contemporary romance called BROKEN HARTS.

It that sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote the first chapter a few years ago, and it’s been sitting in the Teasers tab of this blog ever since. This new project is giving me the opportunity to flesh out this mysterious little snippet.

Here’s the blurb:

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken.

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s beyond cliché. 

But it’s what Ali Hart’s niece Shannon wants. So Ali will wear the pink chiffon bridesmaid’s dress, carry the rose and eucalyptus bouquet down the aisle, and keep her opinion to herself.

Ali is back in New York to get ready for the wedding, but her older sister and brother seize on her visit as the perfect time for Ali to make arrangements for their elderly father, who can no longer independently care for himself.

A navigational error puts Ali on a collision course with destiny. Now what?  

***

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s perfect. 

Unless you’re not positive that she’s the one for you.

In the dark recesses of his heart, Logan Pryce knows that Catherine von Hollen isn’t the love of his life. The daughter of his father’s business partner, they’ve known each other for years. She’s blonde, gorgeous, and everyone loves her. On paper, it’s perfect. On paper.

A chance encounter with a nameless redhead on a crowded subway platform causes Logan to question everything he thought his life was going to be. Will he stay with the safe bet, or will he take a chance on something more?

Here’s that first chapter of BROKEN HARTS.

Ali Hart tightly gripped the pole as the subway jostled along the tracks.  She grimaced as she caught her reflection in the window, her red hair hanging in loose waves around her shoulders, her brown eyes looking tired from the strain of the past week.  The car was surprisingly packed for this time of day and she shifted in an attempt to move away from the man who’d stepped on her toes for the third time.  I hate the city.

“But Alison, it’s not like you have a real job.  You can’t possibly expect Brendan and I to just drop everything and run to New York to deal with Dad.”

Ali replayed the conversation in her head.  “I do have a real job.  I just happen to do it from my home.  In Florida, I might add.”

Her sister Megan had rolled her eyes.  “You write kids’ books.  Big woo!  Anybody can do that.  And you don’t have a family like we do.”

It was true.  Ali lived a solitary life in her condo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on Juno Beach.  It wasn’t as though she never dated, she’d simply never found anyone she could see spending forever with.  It could be that she’d never met anyone who matched up to her idea of the perfect man.

Ali had always been her Daddy’s girl.  Jackson Hart, Pulitzer prize-winning author, had never been an easy man to live with but by the time Alison was born, age had mellowed him a bit.  The fact that she’d turned out to be a writer had pleased him endlessly, much to the disdain of her older brother and sister, Brendan and Megan.

So when the old man had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the Hart sibling consensus was that Ali was the natural choice to deal with the fallout.

As the train pulled into the station, Clumsy Feet stepped on her toes for the fourth time and  Ali glared at him.  “Oh, thank God,” she muttered to herself, allowing the sea of commuters exiting the train to wash her out onto the platform.

Ali was pushed along as everyone hurried on their way until the crowd thinned enough for her to see the 86 on the wall.  “Eighty-sixth? Shit!”  The Alzheimer’s care center she’d been headed to was on 96th.  She turned just as the doors closed and the train moved out of the station.

“Great!  Just fabulous.”  Walking ten blocks wouldn’t normally be a problem.  But the temperature was an unpleasant thirty-eight degrees and there was a nasty sleet coming down. There was nothing to do except wait for the next train and hope she’d still be on time for her appointment.   I hate the city.

***

“My God, Logan, the wedding’s in six months!  We have to make these decisions!”

Logan Pryce rolled his eyes as he juggled his phone, his brown leather messenger bag, and the rolls of plans while he walked down the stairs into the 86th Street subway station.  “I know, Catherine, but honestly, I trust your taste.  Pick what you like.”

“Sometimes I’m not sure you really want to get married,” she pouted into the phone.

Sometimes I’m not sure myself.  He rolled his eyes again.  “Catherine, I’m working.  My client wants to build some retail space in the subway station.  That’s where I am right now.”  He aimed for patient and reasonable.  “Listen, pick the flowers you like or wait until I get back to Chicago tonight.  Either way will be fine.  I promise.  But I’ve got to go.”

He disconnected with Catherine and looked around for the clients he was meeting.  Winning the bid for the subway retail space was a big coup for his architectural firm.  Pryce Designs was highly successful in Chicago but this job would open the doors to the lucrative Manhattan market.

As he scanned the crowded station, his gaze was drawn to a woman who’d just gotten off the train.  The first thing he noticed was her brilliant red hair.  Even in the dim white light of the platform, her hair gave off a golden glow and he had the sudden urge to see it in the bright sunlight.

She reversed direction as if to re-enter the train but the doors closed and the train left.  Even from his distance he could see her annoyance.  He wondered what was wrong.  Perhaps she’d forgotten something.  Or she’d gotten off at the wrong stop.  Goodness knows, he’d gotten off at the wrong stop a time or two.  He grinned at the memory.

Then, as if she felt him watching her, she looked up straight into his eyes and he felt a jolt of electricity.  He watched her brown eyes widen as she looked back at him.  It felt as though everything in the busy station stopped as they gazed at each other across the heads of hundreds of passersby.  Logan felt his breath leave his body.

Suddenly, a large man barreled into the woman and she went down.  Logan was by her side in an instant.  “Are you alright?”

“I think so,” she answered shakily.  She was sitting on the filthy floor of the platform.

“Let me help you up.”  He took her hand and gently helped her stand.  “Are you sure you aren’t hurt?”

Again, those deep brown eyes bore into his.  “No, I think I’m alright.”

They stood that way, lost in each other’s eyes.  “Can we…” Logan began as the next train arrived.

The woman moved her gaze to the train.  “I have to go.  I’m late for an appointment.  This wasn’t my stop.”  She seemed apologetic.

Logan stepped back to allow her past him and onto the train.  She stood just inside the doorway and as it closed, she placed her palm on the glass.  Logan pressed his palm to the outside of the glass and they stared at each other until the train left the station.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

The Valentine’s Day anthology collection will be out this February. Stay tuned for more details, including the amazing cover reveal!

Weekend Excerpt–Happy Halloween!

…the living are always more dangerous than the dead…

Happy Halloween!
If you’re in the mood for a ‘dark and stormy night in a haunted house‘ kind of romance novel, MIDNIGHT COVE is the book for you.

Writer Bree Blaylock leaves Florida and an abusive fiance for a quiet cabin on the lake in a small South Carolina town. The fact that the cabin is haunted doesn’t bother her in the least. In her experience, the living are always more dangerous than the dead.

When she meets her handsome new neighbor, local lawman Jake Hanson, she wonders if it might be time to take another chance on love.

But can Jake keep her safe when the past comes calling?

Here’s a brand-new teaser from MIDNIGHT COVE.

With Main Street blocked off, Rusty parked the truck in a designated area, and the pair set off on foot, joining dozens of other costumed townspeople as they made their way toward the center of the action. 

Midnight Cove had been transformed into a black and orange fairyland that would have made Tim Burton proud.  Orange lights were strung back and forth in zig-zag patterns across Main Street, and carved jack o’ lanterns of varying temperaments grinned in front of every business. 

The nostalgic aroma of fried dough and onions and fresh popcorn filled the air as Bree spied a row of food kiosks down the center of the street.  An area at one end of the street featured Halloween-themed carnival games for children, and residents had begun to arrange their chairs along the sidewalks, huge containers of candy at the ready for the trick-or-treating to begin.

At the opposite end of Main Street from the games, several stands offered adult beverages, and that’s where Rusty led Bree.  “I told her to meet us at the Dew Drop Inn tent,” he explained.  It’s right in front of the bookstore.

Just as they arrived at the orange and black canopy, the door of the Plucky Peacock opened, and a familiar figure emerged.  She locked the door and walked toward them.

“Hey, y’all!  Ooh, Bree, you look fantastic!  I love your makeup.”  She rose on her tiptoes and gave Rusty a kiss.

Bree shrugged lightly.  “It’s not too much, is it?”

“Girl, it’s Halloween.  Let it all hang out, that’s what I say.  Speaking of which,” she lowered her voice, “great cleavage!  Jake’s gonna love it.”

Beneath the heavy makeup, Bree blushed profusely.  “So, what’s this all about?”  She waved toward April, hoping to change the subject.

April held her hands out to her side and slowly rotated in a circle.  “Get it?” she grinned happily.

Bree scanned her friend up and down.  April was covered from her shoulders to her knees in a shaggy brown faux fur tube.  Her arms and legs stuck out from holes in the sides, and the whole thing narrowed to an elongated point that dragged on the ground several feet behind her.  A round fur hat completed the ensemble.

“What are you supposed to be?” Bree wondered.

April rolled her eyes good-naturedly.  “I’m a tail.”  She tucked her arm through Rusty’s.  “He’s a fairy.  Together, we’re a fairy tale.”  She gestured between herself and Rusty.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” Bree laughed lightly.  “Listen, have you seen Jake?”

“I don’t know.  He was down here earlier, but they may have sent him to the kids’ area.  We’ll find him later.  Let’s go get us some Witches Brew.”

Bree glanced around, but Jake was nowhere to be seen.  Reluctantly, she joined April and Rusty in line.  Ten minutes later, they each held a black plastic bucket containing a fruity alcohol concoction.

“Thirty-two ounces of different kinds of rum with a tiny splash of juice.” April giggled. “Any other day, it’s called a voodoo bucket, but on Halloween, they call it Witches Brew.”

Bree sipped hers, deciding the combination of different rums and juice was an enjoyable mixture. 

“Okay, what now?” Rusty asked.

“I really need to find Jake,” Bree responded.

“I thought we could work our way over to the nachos.”  April sounded a bit disappointed.

“You guys go ahead,” Bree told her.  “I’ll catch up with you in a little while.”

April looked to Rusty and rolled her eyes comically.  “The girl has the serious hots for your best friend,” she told him.

Bree laughed with more patience than she felt.  “Really, I’ll find you again.  And thanks for the drink.  Next round is on me.”

“Now, you’re talking.  Okay, go find Jakey-boy,” Rusty teased.  “We’ll see you in a while.” 

Bree watched the pair make their way to one of the food tents.  Then she turned and headed back toward the other end of the street.  Her sense of unease growing, her gaze flitted around as she scanned the crowd searching for Jake. 

She finally spotted him just as he was leaving the children’s game area.  Before she could reach him, he was stopped by Darlene Bright, who was sporting a very short plaid skirt and a white blouse tied around her bare midriff.  Her long blond hair hung in pigtails, and she wore white knee socks and black stilettos. 

Nodding at something Darlene said, Jake looked up and saw Bree coming toward them.  Grinning broadly, he excused himself and met Bree in three long strides.

“Hello, beautiful!  You make just about the sexiest witch I ever saw.”  He leaned down to kiss her lightly.  “And I see you found the official Halloween libation.  Where are Rusty and April?”

Bree hooked a thumb over her shoulder.  “They went to get something to eat.  I wanted to find you, though.”

“The festival’s going really well,” he commented, looking out over the crowd.  “The weather is perfect, and everyone’s having a great time.  Are you hungry?  The onion rings are to die for.  My treat?”

Shaking her head, she put her free hand on his arm.  “I need to talk to you.”

At her urgent tone, he frowned.  “Is everything okay?”

She sighed deeply.  “It’s just…”  She looked around.  “Can we talk someplace quiet?”  She dropped her drink into a nearby trash can.

He nodded.  “Sure.  Come with me.”

Taking her hand, he led her through the crowd to the police station.  The front doors were unlocked, and he led her through a swinging wooden gate into the inner office.  Brow furrowed, he turned to face her, leaning a hip on one of the desks.  “What’s the matter, Bree?  You’re worrying me.”

She exhaled sharply and paced a few steps away.  “This is going to sound nuts.  But I need you to believe me.”

Jake crossed his arms and nodded.  “Just tell me what’s going on.”

“Mr. Meyer killed that girl all those years ago.  Christie.  And he killed his brother, Steven, too.”  She wrung her hands together, desperate for Jake to believe her.

His frown deepened, and he swiped his hand across his chin.  “What makes you think so?”

Bree chewed her lip, hesitating.  “I saw him do it.”

She watched his eyes widen.

“You saw him.”  He shook his head.  “Bree, that murder happened forty years ago.  How could you have seen it?”

“I know how this sounds, Jake.  But I saw him.  Out on the island.  I don’t think he set out to do it, but he strangled Christie, then he hit Steven in the head with a rock.  He buried Steven in the basement of the lake house.”

Pushing away from the desk, he approached her, taking her hands in his.  “Bree, I just don’t understand.  What do you mean, you saw him do these things?”

“It was a dream.”  Her voice was nearly a whisper.

Relief flooded Jake’s face.  “A dream.  Bree, you just dreamed you saw Meyer do those things.”

Frustrated tears threatened to spill down her cheeks, and she swallowed hard.  “Jake, I need you to believe me.  It’s true.  The murderer has been here the whole time.  People should know the truth.  Steven and Christie deserve justice.”

He watched her for a moment, then pulled her to himself, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.  “It’s not that I don’t believe you, babe.  But let’s say I do believe you.  I can’t act on something you saw in a dream.  I need concrete evidence, something irrefutable.  I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to–“

With a grunt, Jake went limp and slid to the floor.  Where he’d been, Eric Meyer stood glaring at her, a heavy glass paperweight in his hand.

“See what you made me do?” he said to Bree.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

Find MIDNIGHT COVE at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/MidnightCove

Weekend Excerpt–HUNTER’S PRIDE

Maybe it’s time this widowed rancher took another chance on love.
But is the spunky big-city redhead merely setting him up?

A handsome rancher with a tragic past, determined to hang on to his inheritance.
A spunky young corporate lawyer ready to make her mark in the world.
A sinister plot against them both.

Hunter McFall is a fifth-generation Idaho cattle rancher. He’s been approached to sell a small fraction of his land to a big-city real estate developer. Something he has no intention of doing. He’s agreed to hear out the firm’s lawyer, but that’s the end of it. To his surprise, it’s just the beginning.

Red-haired Manhattan business attorney Poppy Chastain is determined to make the most of her first opportunity to show her bosses what she can do. Slade & Howell have sent her to the boondocks of Idaho to convince the hard-headed rancher to part with a tiny plot of his property. She didn’t count on the sizzling attraction between them.

Together, they find a passion they weren’t even looking for. But their love is threatened by a covert scheme to separate Hunter from his land by any means necessary. When he finds out, he’s sure Poppy has played him for a fool. Can she convince him otherwise, that what they’ve found is real?

If you love hot cowboys, sassy redheads, and steamy, romantic happily-ever-afters, you’ll love Hunter’s Pride.

Here’s a little sneak-peek.

By the time they finished eating and paid their tabs, Hunter was positive Poppy had to be feeling the effects of the alcohol. But she seemed determined to press forward independently.

Together, they made their way to the door of the bar. With all the noise and music inside, they had been blissfully unaware that a spring storm had rolled in. Rain pouring down in buckets was punctuated by jagged flashes of lightning and the percussion of thunder rolling through the valley.

He’d already decided that he’d be making sure she got back to her room safely. The storm just clinched the deal. He could barely make out the lighted walkway of the motel through the torrents blowing across the highway in waves.

Beside him, she stared out into the storm. “Well, shit!”

He rested a hand on the small of her back. “Don’t worry. I’ll take you back to the motel.” He took a couple of steps. “Stay right here. I’ll get the truck.” With that, he dashed out into the deluge.

When he pulled the huge black Expedition to the front door, he leaned over and pushed open the passenger door. Poppy launched herself into the truck and slipped, falling headfirst over the center console, her face landing smack in his lap.

“Whoa, now!” he laughed.

She scrambled backward, nearly falling out of the truck. “Um, sorry about that,” she gasped as she swung the door closed.

“It’s okay, just…get yourself settled.”

Sheepishly, she buckled herself in and clasped her hands in her lap. “Okay, I’m settled.”

Suppressing a grin and mentally shaking his head, Hunter turned the truck and headed toward the highway.

At this time of night in a town like McFall, there was no traffic to speak of. Anyone not already home was currently parked in the lot in front of the North Star. He paused anyway, peering through the rain in both directions before cutting across to the motel.

“Which room is yours?”

She pointed with an unsteady hand. “Lucky number 7.”

He pulled into the space beside the Range Rover she’d driven out to the ranch. “Hang on.”

Ducking, he hurried around and opened her door. She accepted his hand and slid down, clutching her shoulder bag with the other hand. Together, they dashed the ten feet to the covered walkway.

For a moment, they stood dripping, looking out into the rainy night. Poppy fished the room key out of her bag.

“Well, thanks for the ride.” She leaned down and closed one eye, her right hand weaving a bit as she aimed for the lock.

“Can I help?” he asked.

He took the key from her and unlocked the door, swinging it open.

“Thanks. I would have gotten it.”

He tried to stop the smile. “I know you would have.”

She peered up at him, red hair drenched from the rain. He stepped closer, and she reached around his neck, pulling him to her, pressing her red lips to his. Her intensity surprised him, but he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer, giving in to her passion.

Gradually, she loosened her hold, and he released her. Gingerly, she touched her fingers to her lips. “Sorry about that. I’m a little drunk.”

“Not a problem. But you should go inside now.”

She nodded slowly. “Yeah. Thanks for everything, Hunter.”

“You’re welcome. Go on now. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

She headed into the room and peeled off the cardigan, dropping it on the floor. Then she gripped the bottom of the camisole and lifted it. Hunter realized that with the drapes open, she was about to put on a show for the entire North Star Bar & Grill, assuming they could see through the rain.

“Hold up there,” he said, hurrying inside to draw the curtains.

Giving up on the camisole for the moment, Poppy sank onto the edge of the bed. He squatted in front of her, taking her hands in his.

“I’m going to go now,” he said softly, “and I need you to lock the door behind me. Okay?”

She blinked as she tried to focus on his face. “Okay.”

“Okay, come with me,” he said, guiding her to the door. “After I go out, you lock the door.” Unable to resist, he pressed a light kiss to her forehead. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

He stepped out onto the sidewalk and pulled the door closed behind him, then stood listening. “Poppy?” He knocked lightly. “Lock the door, hon.”

From the other side, he heard the click of the lock, then the rattle of the chain. “Good girl. Okay, we’ll talk tomorrow. Goodnight.”

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

HUNTER’S PRIDE is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/HuntersPride

Weekend Excerpt–MIDNIGHT COVE

They say still waters run deep.
In the tiny lakeside town of Midnight Cove,
still waters harbor dark secrets.

Writer Bree Blaylock picked the town of Midnight Cove, South Carolina by closing her eyes and pointing to a random spot on the map. She doesn’t care where she goes as long as it’s away from her abusive former fiance. All she wants is a quiet place to finish writing her new novel and to live in peace.

As soon as she drives up to the cottage she’s renting for the next couple of months, she knows she’s not alone. But she learned long ago not to be afraid of things that go bump in the night.

What she didn’t count on was falling for the handsome local lawman who lives a few doors down. Jake Hanson is giving her hope that finding real love is actually possible. But can he keep her safe when the past comes calling?

If I’m being honest, I have to say that I LOVE October. First of all, it’s my birthday month. Add to that the cooler temps, the beautiful fall colors…it’s an irresistible season.

But in October, suddenly I’m in the mood for a ‘dark and stormy night in a haunted house’ kind of book. If you’re like me, MIDNIGHT COVE is just what you’re looking for.

Here’s a scary little snippet.

A flash of lightning lit up the downstairs of the lake house like an overexposed photograph.  The crack of thunder was instantaneous, and Bree ducked her head reflexively.  Murphy, never a fan of a thunderstorm, cowered beside her on the sofa. 

The power had blinked off nearly half an hour earlier, and now the den was lit only by the fire in the fireplace along with a few scattered candles Bree had brought down from upstairs.  She’d had a productive day of writing, and now she was content to watch the storm and read her Kindle for as long as the battery held out.

She patted the dog affectionately.  “You’re fine, don’t be such a baby,” she murmured.  “It’s nice and cozy in here, and I’m sure they’ll get the power back soon.”

The tiny digital clock in the corner of her tablet read 10:04, and Bree wondered if the power might be off until morning.  Certainly, no one would be climbing up any power poles until the storm was over.

Briefly, she considered heading upstairs to bed, but her phone rang before she could definitively decide.

“Hi,” she smiled.

“Hi yourself,” Jake said.  “How are you holding up in this crazy storm?”

She glanced at Murphy and shook her head.  “Oh, we’re fine.  Some of us are better than others.”

“Murphy’s not digging the thunder?”

“You guessed it.  I, however, am enjoying the light show over the lake.  I wish the power were on, though.  It feels very 19th century.  I’m so spoiled,” she laughed.

There was a slight pause.  “We don’t have any reports of power outages.  How long has it been out?”

Bree raised her eyebrows.  “Maybe half an hour?”

“Can you see if mine’s out, too?  I left my dock light on.”

“Okay, hang on.”  Bree slipped off the sofa and padded to the back door.  Through heavy rain, she could just make out a dot of light several houses down.  “Yeah, I think I can see your light.  The rain is so heavy, it’s hard to tell.”

Lightning flashed again, for a microsecond illuminating a dark figure standing directly in front of Bree, mere inches away on the other side of the glass.  She shrieked, scrambling backward so fast, she tripped on the rug and ended up on her behind.  Her phone landed beside her.

“Bree!  What’s wrong?”  Jake’s tone was urgent.

She snatched up the phone.  “Holy shit!  I thought I saw someone on the deck.”  Bree’s heart pounded.

“Is someone out there?”

She shook her head.  “No, that’s crazy, nobody would be out there.”  Another bolt of lightning briefly lit up the darkness, and she saw it again.  Someone in a dark hood was peering in at her from the deck.  She gasped and crab-crawled backward to the end of the sofa, hiding herself from view.  Murphy leaped off the sofa and charged the back door, barking for all he was worth.

“Bree?  Bree!”

“He’s…he’s there!  Somebody’s out there!  I thought maybe it was just my own reflection, but he’s out there!”  Bree felt hysteria rising.

“Bree, where are you right now?”

“I’m hiding behind the sofa,” she whispered.

“Is there someplace you can go, a closet or something close by?”

With Murphy still barking, she looked wildly around the room.  From her vantage point behind the sofa, she could see the hallway that led to the foyer.  She knew there was a closet about halfway down. 

“Yes, yes,” she hissed.  “The coat closet.”

“Stay low and get there.  I’m on my way.  Don’t come out of the closet.  I’ll call you once I know it’s safe, okay?”

Phone pressed to her ear, Bree nodded.

“Bree, did you hear me?  Hide in the closet and don’t come out for anything.”

Her teeth chattered, and she nodded again.  “In the closet.  You’ll call me.”

“I will.  Everything’s going to be alright.  I’ll be there as soon as I can get there.”

*******

Jake doubted he’d ever made the trek from town as quickly as he did that night.  Dan Roebuck, also on duty that rainy night, followed Jake in his own patrol car.  Blue lights flashing as the storm’s fury began to subside, Jake skidded to a stop in the gravel driveway and jumped out into the steady rain that still fell. 

Heavy black Maglight in one hand and service revolver in the other, he nodded to Dan.  They split up, cautiously searching around opposite ends of the house and meeting at the back deck. 

Jake glanced down the lake toward his house and saw the light illuminating the end of his dock, just like Bree had said.

“Hanson.”

He turned to Dan, who aimed his flashlight on the wooden steps leading up to the deck.  “Muddy footprints.  Somebody was out here.”

Stepping carefully to avoid ruining the tracks, the men followed the trail up the steps and all the way to the back door, where they ended.  Inside the house, Murphy continued to bark.

“It’s okay, Murphy, good boy,” Jake called to him.

As soon as the dog heard Jake’s voice, the barking was replaced by tail-wagging.

The two men crouched to examine the muddy prints.  Jake’s lips pressed into a grim line.  “The guy stood here for a while.” 

He looked up, past the yellow lab who was now whining at him, into the den where the fire still burned in the fireplace.  A half-glass of wine sat on the end table beside the place Bree would have been sitting on the sofa.

Jake felt a ripple of rage.  Someone had stood out here watching Bree.  He shook his head abruptly.  “Hey, Roebuck, want to keep looking around?  I need to let her know we’re here.”

Dan nodded and moved further down the deck, shining his light as he did.  Jake took out his phone and carefully headed back down the stairs. 

She picked up on the first ring.  “Where are you?” she whispered.

“I’m here,” he answered as he rounded the end of the house.  “I’m heading to your front door now.  Come let me in.”

At the front door, he tapped lightly, exhaling deliberately as he tried to tamp down his anger.  That someone had been prowling around the house, had been peering in at Bree, was more than he could stand.  As she tentatively opened the door, he pasted on what he hoped was a reassuring smile.  When she saw him, she threw herself into his arms. 

“Hey, it’s okay, everything’s okay.”  She shook uncontrollably as he held her.  He pressed a kiss to the top of her head.  “Come on, let’s go inside.  I’m getting you all wet.”

“I-I don’t c-care,” she told him.  “I was so scared.”

“I know, babe, but you’re safe.  I promise you’re safe now.”  He walked her to the sofa where she sat.  He took a seat on the coffee table across from her.  “Now, tell me what you saw.”

Her eyes were wide, and she still shook.  He took her icy hands between his own.  “Bree, describe what you saw.”

“A-a man was just standing there.  It was so dark.  I only saw him for a second, when the lightning flashed.  At first, I thought I had scared myself, that it was just my own reflection.  Or maybe–” 

She looked up at him like she was surprised to see him, and she shook her head again.  “But when the lightning flashed again, he was still there.  I was so scared,” she squeaked as tears began to fall.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

MIDNIGHT COVE is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/MidnightCove

Weekend Excerpt–MIDNIGHT COVE

They say still waters run deep.
In the tiny lakeside town of Midnight Cove,
still waters harbor dark secrets.

Doesn’t September put you in the mood to read something suspenseful and romantic? You know, a steamy ghost story with a happily-ever-after ending?

Take a creepy lakeside town, add an eclectic cast of characters with secrets and a haunted house, and you have MIDNIGHT COVE, my spooky, sexy Halloween romance novel.

In MIDNIGHT COVE, writer Bree Blaylock just wants a chance to catch her breath.  Having finally escaped an abusive relationship, she’s relieved to have found a quiet place to finish writing her new book.  

From the moment she arrives, she realizes that she’s not alone in her rented cottage on the lake.  But she’s okay with that. In her experience, the living are always more dangerous than the dead.

Meeting handsome local lawman Jake Hanson wasn’t even remotely on her radar.  Now that she has, maybe it’s time to take another chance on love.  

But can he keep her safe when the past comes calling?

Here’s a teaser from MIDNIGHT COVE.

Sand feels cool beneath her bare feet, and a light breeze ruffles her long red hair. Turquoise water sparkles in the sunlight as foam-edged waves rush up the sandy slope. Normally, the beach would make her nervous, but this isn’t her beach. It’s just a dream.

Bree relaxes in the knowledge that she’s tucked safely in bed. She’ll just enjoy the serenity of the imaginary shoreline. Smiling to herself, she looks down past her flowing white dress to the footprints she’s leaving in the soft wet sand. She wonders if this is Fiji. She’s always wanted to go there.

Further down the beach, she sees a figure and she stiffens, hoping this isn’t turning into one of those dreams. Maybe she should wake up now. She squints, raising a hand to shade her eyes.

The figure is closer now. It’s a man with light hair. Bree relaxes again. She doesn’t know who the stranger is. She simply knows who he is not.

Bree drags her toes through the shallow tide, playfully kicking up water in front of her as she approaches the stranger. To her left, a trio of dolphins leap joyously. Nevermind that the water is too shallow. That’s how it is in dreams.

She raises her hand in a wave. “Hello!”

The stranger stops a short distance away, a bemused expression on his face. He’s nice-looking, she notices. His blonde hair is a little shaggy, but his light blue eyes sparkle with intelligence. He’s dressed a bit oddly in her estimation. He’s wearing faded blue jeans that flair toward the bottom and his blue Superman T-shirt looks vintage. A strand of puka shells encircles his neck. Like Bree, his feet are bare and he’s wading along the edge of the water.

“Hello,” he returns.

“Hi.’

He grins broadly. “You said that already.”

Bree shrugs lightly and twirls in a circle, swinging her skirt around. “I know. Did you see the dolphins?”

He nods and looks toward the water. “I did. They’re cool.”

“This is a cool dream,” Bree agrees.

He smiles again. “What’s your name?”

“Bree. Bree Blaylock. What’s yours?”

“I’m Steven.”

She holds out her hand. “Nice to meet you, Steven.”

He stares at her outstretched hand and hesitates before reaching to take it. Static electricity pops slightly as their skin touches.

“It’s nice to meet you, Bree.”

“Do you think this is Fiji?” Bree asks.

Steven glances around and shrugs. “I’m not sure. Do you think it is?”

“Maybe. It’s not Clearwater, that’s for sure.” Bree wraps her arms across herself and shudders.

“Is Clearwater bad?” he asks.

“This is a happy dream. Let’s not talk about Clearwater.”

Steven shrugs. “Fine by me. We can just enjoy the beach.”

Bree nods happily and slips her arm through his. Together, they wander along the shoreline, stopping occasionally to examine a shell or two. Steven stoops, picks up something, and hands it to her. “Here, this is for you.”

It’s a tiger cowry. She knows this because as a child, she had a book of shells and she’s seen the picture.

“It’s beautiful. Thank you.”

He nods, looking pleased. “Keep it so you can remember this beach. So you can remember me.”

Bree turns to him frowning. “Will I see you again?”

Steven shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“I hope so,” she says fervently. “This is the nicest dream I’ve had in a long time.”

“I’ve liked it, too.” There’s a hint of sadness in his eyes.

***

Sniffing loudly, Bree rolled onto her right side and curled around her extra pillow. Her eyes fluttered briefly before she was fast asleep once again.

From the corner of the bedroom, Steven watched her in wonder. He had no idea how he’d ended up in this woman’s dream. But for the first time in a very long time, he hadn’t been alone.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

MIDNIGHT COVE is now available in wide release
at your favorite online bookseller!
books2read.com/MidnightCove